“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but you your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Good morning, dear friends. As you well know, these days are unlike anything seen in the past 100 years in America. These are uncharted waters in a sense, so I am taking these Encouraging Words far more seriously than in the past, and that’s saying something. Please pray that I find the words each week to be a bright spot in your week. That really is all I want to be. Now, let’s get to it.
I think I have a pretty good understanding of pain. I’m not an expert, but my experience gives me validity to speak. My greatest pain was three years ago when I had a kidney stone. Have you ever had one? If not, then thank God. It was (pardon my language) hell. When the pain first hit me I thought I was dying. I thought that “this” was the way otherwise healthy people died; their bodies simply revolted. The knife in my side and back was bound to cut me in half and leave me lifeless. When I got to the emergency room and was told of my condition and that I wasn’t going to die my attitude changed. I prayed to die. I had no interest in living with this pain. I asked the nurse to hit me in the head with the biggest thing she could find. When she refused, I begged her to point my wife to it. She wouldn’t refuse. But they all were against me; I was attended by sadists. And when they said, “Just pass the knife.” I thought it was a horrible nightmare. It was a pain about which I could do nothing. And the knife did eventually pass.
How are you dealing with the pains of social isolation, of distancing, of shortages, of constant news bombardment? Do you have moments, or prolonged periods, of fear, or anxiety, or anger? If you are like most of us you likely do. Recently I was reminded of a concept I first met in Steven Covey’s wildly successful book, “The Seven Habits of Successful People”. It was a circle of concern vs. a circle of influence. The circle of concern included things that could actually be touched or internalized as personal. The circle of influence included items of external nature, things out there but belonging to someone else. Sometimes the circles have a slight overlap. I wonder if that’s today?
A few years ago I heard that worrying means you potentially lose twice: losing all the time that could have been better and finally losing when the deed is done. Worse is worrying when the deed never occurs. How does that relate to these days? For me, it simply means that I have little influence over most things I see on the news and little of the things I hear from other people. I have only my internal self; what will I do with me? If I choose to reject the fear-mongering, the frustrations of modern challenges, and the pains of petty problems then what do I have left? I’m left with the blank slate of me. I can write on my slate joy, for the relationships I have and the time I always want. I can write blessings, for anyone I do contact and certainly the people I speak to. I can write peace for situations in which I find myself. I honestly can make anything of myself I want because all this stuff outside me is just noise. Scary noise, perhaps, but still noise not of my making or concern (in Covey’s language). What about you?
Whatever you do this week remember this: any pain you feel from what is happening right now is solely in your mind. And there’s never been a better time in your life to reject the noise of the world and be something incredible, a beacon of hope, love, joy, and peace. Can you think of anything better? I cannot. Have a wonderful week, friends and remember that you are not alone and you are loved.
The Book of Jonah